Saturday, December 30, 2006

New books display - Use LibraryThing 

This is a great tool for easily creating an online new books display for your library. Once you set up an account (free for up to 200 books, $15/year for up to 5,000 books), all you need to do is scan in the new items barcodes (or enter their ISBN). LibraryThing pulls info about the book from Amazon (or, if you prefer, other similar services like the Library of Congress), including the cover illustration, and voila! You have instantly created your new books display.

Want to see what it looks like? Check out this example.

The nice thing about an online display versus a physical book display in the library is that the books can still be viewed, even if they've already been checked out.

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Stuff that found me - 12/30/06 

In my online travels, I serendipitously come across sites that may prove helpful for rural librarians. Here are a couple you may find useful for storytime or (if you are in a school) class projects:

DK Clip Art - Download photos from Dorling Kindersley's famous photographs in a variety of categories. [found via]

Free Printable Coloring Pages and Free Coloring Sheets - pretty self-explanatory. These are part of a series of "free printable" sites that include stationery, fax cover sheets, and certificates.

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Friday, December 22, 2006

Report on Canada's Rural Poor 

More interesting reading: Understanding Freefall: The Challenge of the Rural Poor. I haven't yet had a chance to read it in it's entirety, but, from what I could gather from the executive summary, this interim report from the Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry on rural poverty brings attention to some very important issues facing rural communities: economic development; education; access to services; gender issues; and more.

The impetus for this study was "concern about what has been referred to as the farm income crisis." However, it addresses more than just the farm sector. The mandate of the Committee in conducting this study is to:

(a) examine the dimension and depth of rural poverty in Canada;
(b) conduct an assessment of Canada's comparative standing in this area, relative to other OECD countries;
(c) examine the key drivers of reduced opportunity for rural Canadians;
(d) provide recommendations for measures mitigating rural poverty and reduced opportunity for rural Canadians

As mentioned, this is an interim report. The final report is due no later than April 30, 2007.

If you don't have time to read the full 88-page report, read the news release or the article in the National Post.

[found via]

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Saturday, December 16, 2006

Inveneo.org - Sustainable connectivity for rural communities 

Many of those involved with libraries in rural areas are very familiar with the challenges they face in establishing and maintaining basic internet connectivity (high-speed has not yet reached many rural areas). Those challenges are magnified in those areas of the world that lack not only internet connectivity, but reliable power and/or telephone service. Inveneo is a not-for-profit agency that seeks to provide sustainable, open, non-centralized ICT solutions for rural communities in developing nations. The systems they have created are "designed to provide computing, Internet Access and VoIP telephony for places with little or no access to electricity or affordable communications."

The work this organization is doing is really exciting. They have installed systems in Ghana, Haiti, Uganda. Rwanda and Mali. Go to the website to get more details on the open ICT systems they have created, as well as their current projects.

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Journal of interest 

I know that time is at a premium for many librarians, and to suggest that busy rural librarians add more to their reading piles could be considered by some to be a tad presumptuous. Having said that, I would still like you to go have a peek at the Journal of Rural and Community Development. This is a peer-reviewed open-access online journal focusing on the areas of rural and community studies.

The articles do tend to be long-ish and are written in an academic style, which may be off-putting to some. But, even just glancing over the table of contents and article abstracts of the current issues (two issues have been published so far - the planned schedule is two issues per year) can give you a sense of some of the issues being considered and studied. For example:

This journal will be a good tool in helping us see where the local library can have a role in rural commuity development.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Cost-cutting: Cheap phone calls

I'm always looking for ways to do things "on the cheap" and I have discovered a couple ways to save a few bucks on my phone bill. These might also work in the small library environment.

Option 1) 10-10 "dial-around service." I had previously been very skeptical of these services. But, if you do your homework, you can save quite a bit on long-distance charges. (For example, I currently pay $0.05/minute versus $0.15 to $0.36/minute plus admin feeds). Some may find it a bit of a pain to dial an extra seven digits before a ten-digit long-distance number. But, if it is a number you call frequently, you can just program your speed dial to dial all seventeen digits - easy one-button savings!

Option 2) Skype. This is a free download that enables you to make calls over the internet (a better explanation of the service can be found here). The best part is that you can make calls to any other Skype user for free, regardless of location. Alternately, if you want to call someone who does not use Skype, you can subscribe to the SkypeOut service, which allows you to place Skype calls to landline phones for the very reasonable fee of $29.95 per year (not per month, per year). Until January 31, 2007, this subscription is available for $14.95 - even better!

Each of these options will require a small time investment to get them set up. But, once that is done, saving money will be as easy as making a phone call!

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